The bike was to be ready by 9:00 hrs. I was ready by 8:00. Looked out of the window-the shop was closed… at 8:30, saw the shop open and bike out. Went over to find, the spokes which were not available in the locality and had been ordered from elsewhere had not arrived last night. They were to come on a local transport bus with the driver…a regular mode of local courier service I realized, as I saw people collecting packages from busses. Our package finally arrived by the 10:00 o’clock bus. By which time I had found a cyber café, posted yesterday’s blog, and out of impatience cleaned and shined Rocinante. We opened the packet and found that the spokes were one size small. This meant re-ordering and waiting for at the least one hour for them to come and then the fixing so 12:00hrs…Shoot this dashed my ambition of doing 424 km today to make up for the lost time. I had to accept the one day delay. I finally got the bike in hand at 12:40 after which checking out of the hotel, packing the bags etc in the side car took about 20 minutes.
The road to Xi’an was smooth but extremely busy. There were villages/small towns that almost continuously ran along the road. To top that, today was Sunday and all towns seem to have a Sunday market so the streets were packed with loitering teenagers, cruising cars, roving two wheelers, people seemed to be in a festive mood as this was a long weekend because the National day was on Friday.
Reached Xi’an at 15:30 hrs and looked for a hotel for an hour and a half… all were full as Xi’an is a big city and the national day weekend celebration had brought a lot of people into the city. After many hotels turned me down, one of the receptionists who told me they could not accommodate me, ran out behind me and made calls on her cell phone to find me a hotel but couldn’t.
I was sent to the 5th floor of a building either inadvertently or mischievously by a group of youngsters. This turned out to be a lavish massage parlour. Frustrated by my inability to find a hotel with a vacancy for so long, I slumped on the couch, the girls behind the counter went into a discussion and one of them came down with me and walked around the neighbourhood taking me to two hotels which had no room and then finally to a third one which did!!! I told her she was very kind and sweet but all she said was “I don’t know”. I wished I knew a little Chinese to convey to her my gratitude. It is really peculiar that here people who help go all out leaving their positions to guide you or their routes to escort youto the right road and the ones who don’t, just treat you like you had conjunctivitis.
There is a boy who works at the hotel who speaks quite good English, I figured out from him that a hotel is called, or rather sounds to me like: ‘do –you- qua’ or ‘chouthia’!! I couldn’t stop laughing as he tried to correct my pronounciation on the second one. have got my texts for tomorrow written out from him.